Summer Solstice Writing Competition Winner: Alice Penfold

Alice Penfold. Winner of the Wild Words Summer Solstice Writing Competition 2016

Alice Penfold. Winner of the Wild Words Summer Solstice Writing Competition 2016

I am delighted to have won the summer Wild Words writing competition!

I have always loved creative writing, particularly thinking about how to write different perspectives and how the same characters or settings can be seen in such different ways, depending on the subjectivity of the viewer. In addition, the power that words have to be interpreted in multiple ways has always been at the heart of my writing.

It was whilst reflecting on the impact of homonyms in writing that I was inspired to write ‘Leaves’, a piece drawing on its meaning as both a noun and a verb. I wanted to write an abstract piece reflecting the challenges that change and leaving things behind can bring.

To create my story, I combined my love of word play with my passion for writing in the natural environment.

For me, nature and in particular, a keen and active observation of the world around us – its colours, its details, its changes – can provide the basis of such a range of writing.

Robert Frost’s poem, ‘The Road Not Taken’, has always been a favourite of mine, and I wanted to draw out its ambiguity as both a poem of hope and uncertainty in my writing today.

I took the poem and some blank paper to my local park, to observe the falling leaves in detail and consider the metaphorical implications that I could draw on and describe.

I am feeling even more re-inspired to create further stories – and to frequent more parks with nothing but an inspirational poem and blank sheet.

Clarity of Ideas

I’ve been wrestling with Instinctual Creativity.

It's the synthesis of the Wild Words ideas, moved out of the realm of writing per se. A path to tracking down your vibrant, creative self.
I began yesterday with a raft of doubts and questions that were blocking my writing. Questions about where to go with the very rich material. Questions about the many layers of the psychological approach. Questions about how to market it.
Then Charles Davies took me through a process called Very Clear Ideas.
He proposed that I immerse myself in visualising a scenario in which I was in a place, time and psychological state where I was writing in exactly the way I would like to. Where it was flowing.  
I’m in a café, with the buzz or people around, but people speaking in a language I don’t understand so that the content of their conversation doesn’t disturb me. I have a cup of tea. I’m warm. I’m in a comfortable chair. I have limitless white paper, and a fine, scratchy, pen that never runs out. No one invades my space, and there is no threat of that.
Then he asked me a series of questions to which I gave yes or no answers. This process was repeated several times, focusing on different questions. Unravelling, clarifying, understanding.  Always answering from an embodied place.
I had three important realisations…
- I remembered that I am a natural storyteller. I know when an idea is absolutely right. And I know when it’s not right, even though I don’t always know what is wrong.
-I discovered that I am scared. Facing fears is a central message inInstinctual Creativity. Yet, I hadn’t realised the level of my own fear. (Isn’t it so often easier to have perspective on the stuff of others, than on our own stuff!)
-And horror of horrors, despite my best attempts to fool myself, I found that I was ambivalent about writing this particular book, at this particular time.
Even though these weren’t all messages I wanted to hear, overall, I felt a profound wave of relief wash over me. At least I now knew what I was dealing with.
I closed my eyes and returned to my warm, buzzing café, with the comfy chair, the scratchy pen, the reams of white paper…
I’m sorry to say that hot on the heels of the relief, came a dispiriting sense of loneliness. The very comfort and security afforded by envisioning holding my creative space so successfully, gave way to a profound sense of isolation. I was too alone in that writing space. Perhaps that was the source of my ambivalence?
Then phrases arose from a very deep place.
I need my writing subject to respond to me. I need the writing of my book to be a conversation with another, with my subject- the wild animal.
I pride myself on writing with an attitude of openness to what comes up. So, it was news to physically experience that I hadn’t been doing that, and that was the reason I felt blocked.
And with that, the isolation, as well as the ambivalence about the project, evaporated away.  There was a whole hearted YES. Yes, I wanted to write it. Yes, I needed it. Yes, I dreamed it. Yes, I demanded it.
Now this is what I have on my wall beside my desk:
Connect with the wild animal. Communicate. Listen. Allow it to speak.  Respond. Record.  Don’t force words into its mouth.
Find out more about Very Clear Ideas.
Also, from this month’s blog posts: The Importance of Feeling


The Monthly Writing Prompt

Visualise the following scenario: You are in a place, time and psychological state where you are writing in exactly the way you would wish to. It is flowing. 
Write about that. Make use of all your senses to describe what you experience. Where are you? What are the smells, tastes, sounds, smells, texture and colours? How does you body feel?
When you next come sit down to work on you poem/novel/short story or article, take a few moments to recall that scenario, before you begin your writing. Then hold it in the back of your mind, as well as in in your body, as you work. 


The Turning Year Prompt

I don't know about you, but in the winter, more than ever, I find myself dying to get out into the fresh air and connect with the environment through writing wild words.

These are the key dates this month:
-Full Moon Monday 22nd February 2016. Known as 'the snow moon' or 'hunger moon'. 
-New Moon: Wednesday 9th March 2016.

What’s Happening Now At Wild Words…

At Wild Words we’re having adventures.

We’re going ever deeper into what it means to speak with an authentic voice, and to tell the story you need to tell - from the hopeful beginning to the satisfying end. 
The online courses are thriving, supportive communities. And we’re gearing up to announce the first Wild Words residential immersive weeks in Southern France, which will take place in 2016. We’re also preparing a Wild Words tour of literary and arts festivals for next summer. 
Via Facebook and other social media, I’m loving sharing writer’s experiences of block and flow in the creative process. And I’m carving out a space to share my words around the seasonal festivals of the year, as well as my personal journey to track the wild animal and the wild words.

And now a new website too. :-)